FORMER patients of disgraced hospital consultant Michael Shine have reached a multi-million euro settlement with the religious order that ran the hospital he worked in.
The Irish Independent has learned that more than 100 former patients who claimed they were sexually abused by the struck-off medic have agreed to a settlement, believed to exceed €8m. The major breakthrough will spare taxpayers a massive compensation bill.
Allianz, insurers for the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) which owned Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, reached the out-of-court settlement after intensive negotiations ended yesterday.
The settlement was reached despite an earlier row between the order and Allianz.
Allianz insured the MMM for any public liability claims between 1963 and 1997, when the hospital was sold to the State. Last night Dignity 4 Patients, which has supported former patients of Dr Shine since the mid-1990s, welcomed news of the settlement.
"We have drawn some measure of consolation for the vast majority people who complained to us about Dr Shine," said spokeswoman Bernadette O'Sullivan.
"This is a very welcome development and the first positive news for many of those who have suffered."
Dignity 4 Patients has repeatedly called for a public inquiry into allegations of serial sexual abuse against Dr Shine.
One man involved in the multi-party action said that he was "relieved" that the cases had been settled.
"It takes an awful lot of pressure off a lot of people not to give evidence," said the man who did not wish to be named.
Allianz reached the settlement with lawyers representing some 112 former patients who claimed, in High Court proceedings, that they were sexually abused by the disgraced medic.
The settlement comes weeks after a self-employed roofer and former patient of Dr Shine received a "strong six-figure sum" -- as well as costs -- as part of a settlement against Dr Shine, the North Eastern Health Board (now the HSE) and the MMM.
The settlement, on behalf of clients of Dublin law firm Lavelle Coleman, was reached without an admission of liability. Last night Lavelle Coleman would not comment on the details of the civil compensation scheme, but welcomed the settlement.
"We are happy for our clients that this long and difficult case has come to a conclusion," said a spokesperson for the firm.
Dr Shine, who represented himself in some of the legal actions, retired in 1995 on a full pension from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
He was struck off the medical register in 2008 after the Medical Council found he had abused his professional position by making sexual advances toward three patients. Dr Shine worked for more than 30 years in Drogheda.
He was first investigated by gardai in the 1990s, and went on trial at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court in 2003 where he was acquitted by a jury after a trial that lasted nearly three weeks.
It is understood gardai in Drogheda are investigating some 110 complaints from former patients and that a smalll number of civil claims are outstanding.